Tag Archives: Elizabeth Hamilton

“I, Eliza Hamilton” by Susan H Scott and other books about Alexander Hamilton

I, Eliza Hamilton

I feel like I’m sneaking up on Alexander Hamilton.

I tried to read Ron Chernow’s biography Alexander Hamilton (2005) but got bogged down. I may return to it. I “accidentally” listened to The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-178” (2007) by Robert Middlekauf, part of the Oxford History of the United States. (On a long family road trip, the driver gets to choose the recorded book, and even when interested, I sometimes doze off.) I haven’t watched the musical Hamilton, or even heard the sound track.

I accepted I, Eliza Hamilton from an historical fiction enthusiast. Conflict of interest right there…  I ask the usual question…why fictionalize an interesting and fairly well documented life? I guess some people just HAVE to have dialogue! And they can’t accept that there are questions that can’t be answered. Did Hamilton marry for money and social status?

My opinion about Scott’s book? So so. Romanticized. Sentimental. But I kept reading. Call it a C+/B-.

What I really want to understand about Hamilton (and American society at that time) was the role of dueling. Scott (in her discussion notes) says Hamilton was involved in ELEVEN duels or threatened duels. She is the first author I have read to raise the possibility that duelists did not always shoot to kill. (Their weapons were of poor quality and most were bad shots.) What was the nature of the “honor” being defended in these encounters? If, as I have read elsewhere, dueling (which was illegal or severely frowned upon) was an alternate dispute resolution system, did this reflect a flaw in the laws and courts that might better have handled the disputes? What kept dueling from spiraling down into blood feud?

Guess I better keep reading.